POSSIBILITIES FOR ACTION
Congregational Process for Development of Land Acknowledgement
The following section gives suggestions for ways to begin work on land acknowledgement. These are intended to occur at the congregational level.
Determine which local native tribe historically owned the land occupied by the current building. If the information is not clear or needs to be verified, one can contact the tribe in question. (To trace this information, one can begin with the Interactive Map ) Other possible sources for this information include:
- church archives and diocesan records,
- the local library,
- the local historical society,
- the city’s historical land plat,
- records of local deeds, and
- city elders
- Determine who should be contacted within the tribe. This might require research into the organizational structure. It is important to remember that this is a sacred process of establishing a relationship with a group that has been systematically marginalized and oppressed for centuries. This is a step towards acknowledgement and reconciliation of wrongs committed by the colonizing culture against the indigenous one. This means approaching the interaction with an attitude of humility and common humanity, rather than from a position of privilege that repeats past domineering behaviors. We are not “doing them a favor”. We do not come from a position of dominance.
- Meet in person. These gatherings could include sharing a meal together with the goal of building a relationship with one another. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a long-term friendship between the congregation and the local indigenous tribe.
- Create, bless, and hang a plaque at the church location with the approval, blessing, and participation of the Indigenous tribe, making a statement of land acknowledgement. The statement could also be placed on the church’s social media and publications. Examples of the language on such a plaque might be:
“We acknowledge the [Tribal Name inserted here] and all Indigenous Peoples. This building and facilities stand on the traditional land of the people, whose ancestors have resided here since time immemorial. We honor and thank them for their culture, resilience, and indigenous identity.”
“We acknowledge the Chinook Nation and all Indigenous People on whose
traditional and ancestral lands we stand. To the Ancestors and
Descendants of Indigenous Nations of the Columbia River who are
connected to this land, we thank you with deep respect and honor you
in a good way.” (All Saints Episcopal Church, Vancouver, Washington.)
Saint Mark’s Cathedral acknowledges that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Seattle, the Duwamish People, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Duwamish Tribe. (https://saintmarks.org/land-acknowledgment/)